Home > Sales Techniques > The redolence of Service!

The redolence of Service!

I am at Ameerpet in Hyderabad – it’s dinnertime; was rushing back to my hotel room after purchasing a delicious Hyderabadi Biriyani – the heady aroma wafting up from the take-away pack compelling speedy action. But then I spied, through the corner of my eye, a sight that is a familiar one in any major city across India – a paan-waala! Now, a meetha paan would be the right delicacy to cap off a great meal.

My legs propelled me to the shop (biriyani had to wait) and I told the good man to make me two meetha ones without the Areca Nuts – the paan is a good digestive too! (Readers from outside India can read more about the paan by clicking on the hyperlinked word!)

Please note the picture I took while the ‘artist’ created the toothsome treat!

This man hardly looked in my direction and exchanged no word with me other than stating the price when asked. That did not stop me from enjoying the paan afterwards, but as I rushed to keep the pending tryst with a Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani this thought occurred to me: Didn’t this guy waste a big opportunity to create an interesting buying experience for me?

That became all the more evident to me the very next day when, on the way to the airport, I decided to pick up a few meetha paans for my mother (she introduced me to the magic of the paan many years ago). She loves the stuff and I enjoy pampering her with a generous supply every now and then.

I told the cab driver to stop in front of a paan shop and picked up 10 paans. Now, the paan-waala I had visited last night was located just a few hundred metres from my hotel and I had enjoyed his produce too! Why didn’t I go back to him for the purchase?

You can tell me that after reading the rest of my story.

When I walked up to the outlet the deputy was inside the counter and the owner was standing outside. I told the young fellow that I am taking the stuff to Kerala and that it’s for my mother. The moment I stated my requirement the boss-man leaped over the counter into the small kiosk and asked: How does your mother like the paan? What betel leaf should I use?

I said she likes the Calcutta one and the paan should be made without adding Areca Nut chunks. He said “Badiya!”, which means “Great!”, and started laying out 10 sets of leaves to heap on all the stuff that goes into the preparation of a succulent meetha paan. As the paans came to life I clicked photos and he kept talking – he even gave me a bit of the gulkand to taste. This is was one smart sales guy and he was practically sweet-talking me!

He placed the finished product on the counter for me to take pictures and then wrapped them up neatly. Then he said – “Sir! Please note down my number ……. and my name is Shabbir. Anytime you are in this area do give me a call and I shall keep the stuff ready before you reach my shop.”

That though was not the punchline – this guy’s tiny kiosk was just outside a hotel and he didn’t look or sound very well-read or educated. He nailed me with the next statement – “Sir, if you are posting pictures on Facebook please put my number there so that people can contact me!”

Now, that was a killer! I became his fan for life.

You know what – Ameerpet is the IT training hub of Hyderabad – every building in that neighbourhood had dozens of “Training Centres” creating “IT Specialists” – the facades of the building near Shabbir’s shop are covered with boards that said C++, Java, Dot Net, Android Programming, Linux and so on. Probably some youngster who stopped at his outlet had mentioned Facebook or he had seen it on a smart-phone.

He had seen me taking pictures on an Android phone and immediately used the opportunity.

Shabbir’s counter at Ameerpet is at most a kilometre away from the other guy’s. But a kilometre can make such a huge difference in buying experience.

Going back to the biriyani that started this story – why did I buy it? I have eaten a biriyani so many times and in so many cities. Why did I choose it over any other food items? Could it have anything to do with past experience and talk I picked up from friends about this Hyderabadi Specialty?

P.S – Truth be told, the first paan was the tastier of the two – can you answer my query now?

Don’t I sound like the Vetaal in the Vikramaditya stories? 🙂


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  1. Shameem
    November 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Jay, i was smiling wide reading the 2nd half of this story…:) It’s all in the experience n I felt it with you. Well, Shabbir is gonna be famous now n maybe u should just give his number out too like he said…he’s on facebook now anyway thanks to you! 🙂

    • JayadevM
      November 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Hey Shameem

      Yup! Guys like Shabbir need to be famous.

      Yes, I should include his number too .. but let me call the man first and warn him. He probably would wonder what’s its about. :))

      Am glad I could convey that felling through my story.

  2. srikanth
    November 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Good post. Experience and plays a major role in any buying.

    • JayadevM
      November 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Thank you, Srikanth!

  3. vinod mathummal
    November 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    nice,…lovely story….shows the importance of public relations but finally the product needs to be good!! must say this guy is a great sales guy without being professionally trained…

    • JayadevM
      November 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Vinod

      That’s an important point you have made there – Sales is in the attitude. You can do it even without training if you have good people skills.

      Yes, another friend said the same thing – the product need to make the cut too. You can have excellent public relation skills but still lose out on the sale if the product is bad.

      Thank you for sharing that insight.

  4. vinod mathummal
    November 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    hyderabad……very good memories of my bachelor days….have you tried the paradise biriyani?

    • JayadevM
      November 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Vinod

      Not this time, but I have had the Paradise specials couple of times.

      Hyderabad has become such a vast city now – I am sure it was a much smaller and quieter city back then.

  5. The Commander
    November 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Shabbir gave you a story to take back, a lil more than what you paid for in terms of the experience. Ameerpet is where I went to school, college and where i grew up. Happy to hear you enjoyed the Biryani and the Culkatta meeta paan.

    Now I sooo miss good ol Hyderabad.

    • JayadevM
      November 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Hi Srikkanth,

      He certainly did.

      Wow! Didn’t know I was in your old neighbourhood – there must be a million happy and poignant memories associated with the place.

      This is my 4th or 5th trip to Hyderabad – each time it was on business, but I always managed to find a good friend who took me to all the interesting places in the city.

      Am glad I could carry a bit of Hyderabad to you through my story – you must visit the place again and renew acquaintance.

  6. Kailash
    November 23, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Nice write-up J, Many times this small businessmen gives us big lessons.

    • JayadevM
      November 23, 2012 at 6:10 am

      Absolutely. Thank you.

  7. Jamy
    November 23, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Jay, Guest Relations is what I do for a living and yes, if my work is not backed up by the other departments in making the guest experience memorable, then its just a waste of time. Great read Jay!

    • JayadevM
      November 23, 2012 at 7:06 am

      Thank you for corroborating, Jamy!

  8. Jemy Joseph
    November 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Jay, there was a famous chat joint ( Gokul Chat I believe …) near to Abids .Worth visiting 🙂

    Badly missing Osmania Biscuits & Iranian Chai…

    Nice write-up

    • JayadevM
      November 23, 2012 at 8:16 am

      Hi Jemy

      Must do that next time. Thanks.

      And glad you could find time to read this one.

  9. Lijo
    November 23, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Amazing attitude by Shabbir. Hard to find such an attitude even among top b school graduates. This is what they don’t teach you at b schools, I guess.

    Really nice to have shared this. Thanks.

    • JayadevM
      November 23, 2012 at 8:53 am

      My pleasure, Lijo.

      You are right about attitude … and B-schools! 🙂

  10. November 23, 2012 at 9:43 am

    The second paanwalla’s attitude and sales technique and ways of winning customers was far far bettter than the first guy whose product was better.Sales and success in sales is about the right attitude and his passion for the job he is doing…there are people who use smooth talking just to get their product sold but there are others who genuinely love what they do be it even the simple chore of housework.I guess it has to be within themselves this love for what they do…no business school teaches you all that….no one tells you to love your job….for most its just a way of rising up the ladder.Good article….makes my tastebuds water at the thought of Hyderabad biriyani….now where do i go looking for it out here….:((((((

    • JayadevM
      November 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Hi Kathy

      Wish I could email you a biriyani!

      Lovely thought that …. No one can teach you to love your job.

      You are right about the need for passion & attitude – many of the young professionals today are missing the wood for the trees, In the desperate chase for position, power and money the forget these essentials.

      It has to come from inside. Well said.

  11. Jithu
    November 24, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Boss..It was a good read…I njoyed ….Learning is out ther in open..We just need to be conscious …Gud one sir..

    • JayadevM
      November 24, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Thanks a lot, Jitesh!

      You are absolutely right … messages come in from all directions and from every interaction / event. We just need to be receptive.

      Glad you liked it!

    • JayadevM
      November 24, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Hi Jitesh

      Glad you liked it. Messages come in from every event / interaction …. we only have to receive them.

      Thank you for reading.

  12. November 25, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Enjoyed the piece Jayadev! Well said! It isinteresting how the right amount and kind of marketing does the trick. Would you have enjoyed the second paan experience as much if he had tried too hard? I wonder. It is the right kind of effort that works and knowing how much is too much makes all the difference!

    • JayadevM
      November 25, 2012 at 5:24 am

      Hi Thara,

      Welcome! Good to hear from you.

      Spot on …. overkill really kills it. The right amount of service, just as the right amount of ingredients.

      Too much of a good thing …. reminds me of a famous quote in Malayalam …. Adhikumaayal amruthum visham aanu!! (If taken in excess even Nectar would be a poison!)

      So its important to get it Just Right!!

  13. Neenu
    November 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    WOW… nice post..loved reading it… this shows the impact of good customer service can impact.

    • JayadevM
      November 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Hi Neenu

      Good to see your comment hear. You should know all about the impact of good service – Yes, it can make a huge impact.

      Thanks for reading.

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